Fire Safety highlighted in the EPBD recommendations on building renovation
On May 16 2019, the European Commission published its Recommendations on how EU countries should implement the building renovation aspects of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Several recommendations cover fire safety, notably regarding Member States’ Long-Term Renovation Strategies, and the possibilities offered by the Fire Information Exchange Platform.
Member State’s Long-Term Renovation Strategies: an opportunity for fire safety
Under the EPBD, EU Member States are required to adopt a Long-Term Renovation Strategy (LTRS) “to support the renovation of the national stock of residential and non-residential buildings, both public and private, into a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050, facilitating the cost-effective transformation of existing buildings into nearly zero-energy buildings”. The revised EPBD states that Member States can use those long-term renovation strategies to address fire safety, as it can affect energy efficiency renovations and the lifetime of buildings:
- In their Long-Term Renovation strategies, Member States can identify fires as trigger points, which are defined as opportune moments in the life cycle of a building for carrying out energy efficiency renovations. The recommendations highlight that trigger points can also be an opportune moment to assess safety aspects in a building, just as safety upgrades may be good moments to address energy efficiency performance. In other words, energy performance and fire safety can go hand in hand, and mutually reinforce one another.
- Long-Term Renovation Strategies must include an evidence-based estimate of expected energy savings and broader benefits, and Member States may include in this estimate the effects of actions on fire safety.
The Fire Information Exchange Platform can support Member States
The EPBD recommendations rightfully stress that the work of the Fire Information Exchange Platform (FIEP) can support the work of Member States. The European Commission created the FIEP to facilitate the exchange of information between competent national authorities and other stakeholders so that they could benefit from lessons learned and best practices on fire safety. The FIEP gives member states the chance to learn from regulations, safety campaigns and policies adopted in other countries, to flag new risks, to exchange on new technologies and products, and more. Taking inspiration from topics discussed at FIEP meetings, the recommendations states that:
- “Member States can encourage the installation of appropriate ventilation and sprinkler systems, and the safe and correct installation of equipment that could have a fire-safety impact, such as photovoltaic (PV) panels and recharging points for electric vehicles.”
- “Fire-prevention measures and policies such as fire-safety inspections, awareness-raising through home visits and mitigating measures such as the installation of smoke detectors can also play an important role.”
These EPBD recommendations are a substantial step towards ensuring that regulators appropriately consider fire safety in their efforts to renovate buildings to increase their energy performance.